Another category of hair loss in women is a generalized thinning that affects all parts of the scalp. This is the most common type of hair loss seen in females. In this situation, much of the hair remains, but the thickness of the hair shaft is smaller than normal hair. The medical term for this type of thinning is "Diffuse Un-patterned Alopecia". These women have thinning that involves the donor area used in hair transplantation surgery so that women with this type of hair loss are generally not good candidates for Hair Transplant Surgery. This condition may be identified with a Densitometer, which assesses the population of miniaturized hair in different parts of the scalp. (Miniaturization is the process by which hairs shrink in length and diameter from the effects of androgen hormones).
Diffuse hair loss can be caused by a variety of conditions other than "hereditary balding". If women are having sudden hair loss, their hair should be evaluated by a physician who is experienced with these problems. Similarly hair loss in young women may also need a Hair Analysis for nutritional deficiencies and other reasons. Most important, they should know when a medical evaluation is appropriate and whether Medical Hair Restoration or Surgical Treatments will offer the greatest benefit.
A relatively large number of drugs can cause “telogen effluvium,” a condition where hair is shifted into a resting, non-growth stage and then several months later shed. Fortunately, this shedding is reversible if the medication is stopped, but the reaction can be confused with genetic female hair loss if not properly diagnosed.
Telogen Effluvium (TE) is probably the second most common form of hair loss that a dermatologist sees in the dermatology clinic. To understand the condition it is better to have a look at the biology of the hair follicle. The condition results when the number of hairs in the growth phase drops significantly and there is a corresponding increase in telogen (resting) stage hair follicles. TE characterized by thinning of the hair does not follow any particular pattern, but generally there is more thinning on top of the scalp than at the sides and back of the scalp. There is no hair line recession, except for few rare cases of chronic telogen effluvium which results from shortening of the growth phase. The hairs that are shed are typically telogen hairs which can be recognized by a small bulb of keratin on the root end. Telogen affluvium can also result if the telogen phase is prolonged; in this case the hair fibers do not fall but remain in resting stage for longer time. Due to prolongation of telogen stage, anagen phase is not resumed at those places and a gradual thinning of hair is seen.
There can be several reasons for hair loss in young women or for sudden hair loss in women who are below the menopausal age. This type of hair loss has nothing much to do about the genetic hair loss - andorgenetic alopecia (congenital) or alopecia areata (auto-immune) so it can also be termed as the health related hair loss. Some common medical conditions observed by the dermatologist as the causes for sudden, diffuse hair loss in women are the following:
Other Endocrine problems (especially those that produce excess androgens)
Gynecological conditions - such as ovarian tumors
Connective tissue disease (such as Lupus)
Surgical procedures and general anesthesiarapid weight loss or crash diets that are not nuritionally balanced
Severe emotional stress
Medication is another important and the most probable cause of sudden hair loss. It is also important to review the use of medications that can cause hair loss. The more common ones are:
Blood pressure medication (such as beta-blockers or water pills)
Nutritional deficiencies (zinc, amino acid L-lysine, or vitamins B6 and B12, iron),
"Mood" medication (lithium, Prozac, or tri-cyclic antidepressants)
Blood thinners (heparin or coumadin)
Cholesterol lowering medications
Contact Dermatitis from hair dyes
Medication for gout, such as Zyloprim
Anti-Inflammatory drugs such as cortisone
Vitamin A or tryptophan in high doses
Street Drugs (such as cocaine or LSD)
Solutions for Hair Regrowth in Women
Removal of the cause of the diffuse hair loss leads to normal hair growth in most of cases. The medications that have a high chance of causing TE should be substituted with benign alternatives, when possible. Hormone therapies should be stabilized. However, if a specific causal factor is not identified, or it is not possible to remove the underlying cause, most dermatologists resort to prescribing minoxidil. Minoxidil is a direct hair growth stimulator; it helps to resume the Anagen Growth Phase from telogen resting hair follicles and causes hair root regrowth.
In contrast to telgen effluvium, anagen effluvium involves the shedding of the anagen hair which can be recognized by a tapered or feathered root end. This condition results in rapid hair loss, sometimes to extent of loosing all the scalp hair. The hair loss can be very extensive, but often reversible when the medication is stopped.
Causes of Hair Loss in Anagen Effluvium
Cytoxic drugs such as those given for the cancer therapy and other toxins which stop the proliferation of cells are responsible for the disease. The hair follicles in the growth phase do not proceed to the resting phase but somehow get frozen in time. The cell proliferation in the hair follicles is suddenly shut off by the drugs. Consequently, the anagen hair fiber falls out.
Solutions for Hair Regrowth in Women
Stopping of drug therapy is the only practical hair loss restoration option available. Sometimes there is permanent change in the texture and nature of hair after the recovery.
Traction Alopecia and Trichotillomania
In terms of the mechanical action that causes hair loss, traction alopecia and trichotillomania are exactly the same. The hair is plucked out of the skin leaving clear, bald patches or diffuse, thin hair. With traction alopecia the cause may involve things like tight hat bands, pulling the hair into a tight pony tail, cornrow hair styles, and anything else that pulls on the roots of the hair. Sometimes the follicles are damaged to the extent that they stop growing resulting in permanent hair loss. With trichotillomania, the individual obsessively pulls out their own hair. Often this process is unconsciously done and the individual is unaware that the hair loss they are experiencing is self inflicted.
One of the most common hair shaft defects a dermatologist encounters is trichorrhexis nodosa (also called trichonodosis). The focal defect in the hair fiber can be only be observed under the microscope along the length of a fiber. The disease is caused by the absence of cuticle at some places resulting into swelling and/or fraying at those places.
Acquired trichorrhexis nodosa is much more common in modern society and develops as a result of excessive hair manipulation and over-processing. Too much brushing, hairstyles that put constant stress on the hair, excessive washing, dying, and perming may disrupt the cuticle in focal areas along a hair shaft. Trichorrhexis nodosa is particularly seen in people who overuse hot combs or permanent waves to style their hair. Once the cuticle is removed from hair fiber then the hair cortex swiftly breaks down.
Hair loss restoration treatment depends on the considered cause of the focal defects. If the hair production is believed to be abnormal then treatment will focus on the hair follicle and improving the strength of hair fiber. People are encouraged to stop using brushes, avoid hair styling that involves chemicals and use only very mild shampoos.